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Entries in India (21)

Monday
Aug252014

how it's made: handwoven recycled sari rugs

The making of the handwoven recycled sari rugs and runners begins at the core of the rug—the vibrant silk fibers which come from the sari manufacturing industry. This thriving business in India reflects the richness of its culture—and its resourcefulness as it leaves little to waste.

In Bangalore, located in south India, remnants of sarees are sold to companies who segregate it as per the potential use of the materials and a buyer’s needs—and while sarees are made in various parts of India, these lots of remnants are usually a mix of all colors which allows for specific shade requirements to be met in the segregation process.

A control sample helps to guide the color separator and the remainder of the fibers are used to make the yarns of mixed colors—so just about everything is used in the end.

Once the fibers are well organized, it’s then handspun into yarn—the results of this process are yarns with varying thicknesses at random places. In order to have a level of consistency, all the highly uneven count is removed as well as any drastic shade changes.

When enough fibers are gathered and yarn spun, the weaving process begins on a regular vertical loom which is typically used to weave dhurrie or hand-knotted rugs.

During the weaving process, rows of yarns are pressed together using a wooden comb which makes the weaving tighter and more durable.

To secure the weaving and complete the look, the same yarns are used to hand-stitch all of the edges and a final washing completes the process.

Monday
Jul072014

how it's made: vixen blockprint tablecloths

To create the modern striped pattern of the vixen blockprint tablecloth, the process of transferring a pattern on to wood blocks using paper and charcoal—then hand-carving the pattern out of the solid wood—has been the first step for hundreds of years.

In 2008, we happen to pass by a small group of workers carving very traditional patterns in Jaipur, India—an area famous for block printing and where vixen is produced today.

While vixen’s pattern is much cleaner and more simplified than the detailed patterns shown above, it actually makes the process all the more challenging to precisely align each press of the block—and to keep its very long lines as straight as possible.

To get started, the printer prepares the fabric by measuring the length to be folded for the hem—so that the stripes start from the corner—points are then marked on all four corners using a tailors awl.

The cloth piece is then laid out diagonally across the printing table aligning the awl points and a strong line of twine is stretched across the cloth and connecting the corner points—creating a full-length guide for the printer.

Printing begins with the darker color as the background, then the fabric is repositioned and pinned for the second color—so the diagonal stripes cross each other and create the overall pattern.

Once completely printed, the cloth is hung to dry then washed to process and set the colors. Lastly, the hem is sewn and the finished tablecloth pressed for packaging.
hint: if you look very closely at a finished tablecloth, subtle breaks or overprints in the line can be seen which indicate each hand-pressed print of the block.

Wednesday
Jul032013

how it's made: jaipur handpainted stripe bedding

When Jaipur, India was first developed in the 1700s, artisans and craftsmen were invited to live and work and enrich the city. Over the decades, techniques and skills were passed from one generation to the next—and the area built a reputation for itself.

Here, each piece of Jaipur handpainted stripe bedding is drawn and painted by local, contemporary artists using hand-mixed dyes—an art in itself.

The modern pattern draws inspiration from the hand-tie and dye techniques—and when mixed with this traditional Indian art and a rich color palette—results in a stunning effect of unique textiles.

Wednesday
Sep052012

how it's made: wrap bench

Handmade by a skilled carpenter from
local acacia wood, the construction of each wrap bench includes traditional mortise and tenon joinery—note the round section of wood towards the top of each leg. Criss-crossing metal rods reinforce leg strength—along with the woven jute seat—but the bench is entirely without nails or screws.

Jute, a fast growing plant requiring minimal processing, is one of the most sustainable fibers available—especially in the Bengal state of India where it’s grown extensively.

The loosely twisted ropes are purchased in hanks with big loops—each weighing about
8 kilograms, or 19 lbs.

The hanks are then opened up, dried in the sun—in case moisture is trapped inside—then rolled into smaller, more manageable balls for weaving.

The fiber is first woven width wise—in a loop over loop fashion—covering the side rails almost completely. It’s then passed through the cavities formed by the width-wise looping and looped over the short ends—creating a strong seat and strengthening the frame in the process.

Monday
Aug132012

how it's made: shesham tools

Designed by a vegetarian who loves to cook—and who possesses a wooden spoon collection spanning decades—these handmade, sustainable shesham tools have subtle details that both casual and advanced cooks can appreciate.

First, the shesham spoon was originally referred to as the marinara spoon since other family members aren’t vegetarian and frequent dinner invitees love all kinds of chilies, stews and marinara sauces. These types of dishes are usually prepared in deeper pots, so the spoon features a longer handle and a wider bowl to stir more with less work—or attention while the cook visits with guests.

The shesham server and spatula—while great for serving up grilled homemade pizza with their precisely angled surfaces—can also be used for scrambling eggs, flipping chorizo or sauteing onions. Bonus: wooden tools are more gentle on pots and pans than metal utensils and sculptural side curves provide maximum mixing and reach into the corners of bowls and pots.

The shesham salad servers not only serve leafy greens, but they’re also designed to catch diced vegetables and scoop up salad dressings which otherwise seem to pool on the bottom of the bowl.

Hints: rinsing is better than scrubbing—use mild soap as needed—and never put them in a dish- washer. Normal use should maintain their condition, but a rub of oil can restore their rich appearance.